The U.S. has been engaged actively in Iraq since 2003, one of the longest periods in which America has fought a war. Once popular with the public, the war grew unpopular as Americans began to doubt the chances of success there and its importance in the larger War on Terrorism. We seemed doomed to stay there forever.
Not anymore. On August 31, nearly two weeks ago, President Barack Obama announced in his second Oval Office address the end of combat operations in Iraq, with the departure of the last combatant brigade there. It took several years, but the present climate in Iraq has allowed a drawdown of troops there.
This is a step in the right direction. We knew that this day had to come. Our troops cannot fight this war indefinitely. They have been stretched thin for far too long. Besides spending unnecessary billions on the effort, we have been embroiled in a conflict that has also killed countless Iraqi civilians.
This has only added fuel to the notion that the United States is an unwanted invader there, which has bolstered the resolve of militants. By declaring the end of combat operations, we have moved toward reassuring those in the Middle East that we are not there to stay. This can help regain the trust of people in the region who have grown disillusioned with America’s war on terror.
This will also help our troops devote more attention to Afghanistan, a more pressing focus in the war on terror. Many terrorist organizations have strong presences in Afghanistan, especially Al-Qaeda. We hope that Afghanistan will see the same drawdown that Iraq has seen, hopefully by the end of next year.
Most importantly, the people of Iraq will have a chance to attain self-autonomy. They knew that our involvement in Iraq was not a blank check. With the training and aid that we continue to give Iraqis, our departure will give them solid footing on which to strengthen their nation.
President Obama was correct in restraining himself from declaring outright victory in Iraq. With an ill-developed Iraqi government and 50,000 American troops still helping in non-combatant operations, we still have an active hand in this nation. The road to a semblance of peace and stability still remains difficult, but we have made the right moves thus far.
Guarav Dhiman is a junior majoring in political science and biology. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.